Now that I am 30…

A nostalgic look back at the childhood of a small English kid.

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Atmosfear (otherwise known as ‘Nightmare’)

Posted by iwata33 on Thursday 10 April 2008

I am not sure where my love for board games came from.  I know I played them from a very young age, and that quite early on it was evident that I favored the more fantasy based game.  However I never went all the way, Dungeons and Dragons wasn’t something I was ever introduced to, until of course it was too late and by that I mean I’d entered my mid-teens which meant of course that the peers I associated with would never allow a 15 year old lad from Preston to even mention the word Dragon never mind spend time pretending to slay one.  Even now to use the word elf or wizard in front of my oldest and dearest friend is like using some disgusting adjective to describe his mother, either that of course or fits of laughter and a mimic of someone pushing up some very large imaginary glasses that have fallen onto the end of his nose.  However I did play a few fantasy based games in my youth, Heroquest being my absolute favorite (and the subject of a later and lengthier post).

Atmosfear on the other hand was one of those bridging games and by that what I mean is that you could play it with your role playing friends and pretend to be the vampire or the mummy but you could also play it with your mum and dad and extended family when they came around from a Christmas party where all the adults would just sit around watching the football results and rating this Christmas against other Christmases for crapness.

Atmosfear when it first appeared in 1991 was a bit of a revolution.  It took advantage of the fact that since the mid eighties every home in the UK had gotten itself a VHS player, and so with this game you received a video tape that would be played throughout the game.  This had never happened before, or certainly not to a group of British kids who’s main staple of games up until that point had been Buckaroo and Ker-plunk.  It was exciting and fun to play.  On the tape was a guy known as ‘The Gatekeeper’, it was his job to control the flow of the game, make people do silly things and generally be mean to the players.  This added a whole new element to the game that made it feel fresh and new.  Another first as far as we could tell was the fact that you could get add-on games for the main set and they came in the form of sets that concentrated on one of the 6 characters from the game.  As you can see from the picture at the top of this post, I had the main set and the vampire expansion.

A few years on and Spears Games the company that had released the first game, decided to repackage Atmosfear, again with all the same elements, but this time around the presentation was a lot better.  The version I got came with the only expansion I think the new game had which was the ‘The Soul Rangers’ game.  The production values on the tape was better with the same guy as before receiving better makeup and a new location to stand in.

And now we have the DVD version of the game.  The sad fact of the matter is that I no longer have a VHS player that is readily accessible in my house any more and so playing these older versions of the games is impossible.  I did try to have a look around the web to see if Spear Games or someone else offered free upgrades providing a DVD copy of the original tapes.  However as of yet I have found none.  I suppose if I want to play I could transfer the videos onto DVD but that just seems like a hassle.  I suppose I will have to purchase a third copy of the game.  Or thinking about it I could get one of my friends to dress up like the gate keeper, and get them to stand in front of the TV calling the players ‘Maggots’ and throwing stuff at them.  Oh yeah my friends don’t like role playing, well I suppose that is out then.

If you want to find out more about this game or indeed other games, the best place on the web is ‘Board Game Geek’, which you can find at the following site.  Enjoy

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/5641

Happy Hunting

Chris

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